JLF 2015: Putting the world on the map in a dozen ways

  • Pathikrit Sen Gupta, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Jan 24, 2015 21:37 IST

Governments across the world are gradually ceding authority for map-making to multinational corporations and this could be dangerous in the long run, said author Jerry Brotton at the Jaipur Literature Festival on Saturday.

From a two millennia-old clay tablet discovered in Iraq that's the earliest surviving attempt to show the world, to Google Earth's virtual globe- Brotton used a range of images to bring down to earth the seemingly dry subject in the session named after his book - A History of the World in Twelve Maps.

"Countries and civilisations have always tried to put themselves at the centre of their maps," said Brotton in the programme presented by British politician and historian Kwasi Kwarteng.

Brotton also focused on Greco-Egyptian writer Claudius Ptolemy, who in the second century 'threw a net across the known world' with his geometric measurements of the globe and the first uses of longitudinal and latitudinal lines.

Maps answer the query "Where am I?" that is as much an existential question as it is geographical, Brotton said.

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